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Jamie Parsons

The Proten Cup men’s and women’s finals last weekend followed the same path as much of the regular with four close games – two ending in golden point to determine the winners.

It was a reflection of the competition which has had four draws this year, when there had been zero tied games from the previous five seasons.

In the women's Minor Semi-final Rankins Springs Dragonettes enjoyed hosting rights in their return to the finals after missing out last year.

Despite home ground advantage the Narrandera Lizards got out to an early lead and were up 10-0 at halftime.

Early in the second half the Dragonettes dominated the opening stages, scoring three tries to be up 14-10 with five minutes left.

A try out wide with a couple minutes left on the clock levelled the scores, with the conversion unsuccessful.

It sent the first game of the finals series into golden points, which in turn produced a scoreless first period. With a minute remaining in the second five-minute period half Zoey Ingram scored her second try of the day to keep the Lizards alive.

Rankins Springs were heartbreakingly eliminated but had an excellent overall season, improving over 2023’s last-place finish.

In the women's Major Semi-final it was a repeat of the top-two teams of 2023 with the Ivanhoe Hens trying to negotiate their first win over the Barellan Rams in their sixth attempt, which included both last year’s Major Semi and Grand Final.

Barellan started in their usual dominant way, jumping out to a 12-0 lead by halftime.

The Hens though would not go away and forced themselves back into the game to trail 12-10 in the dying stages, before a try by Nancy Tale close to full time.

That gave Ivanhoe the win 14-12 to hand Barellan their first loss after a 14-game winning streak stretching back to the start of 2023.

Ivanhoe go straight through to the Grand Final with Barellan facing Narrandera in the Preliminary Final this weekend.

In the men's Minor Semi-final it was a similar story with the match ending up a golden point thriller as well.

Despite a sound beating last week, Ivanhoe ad the better start with an early long-range try to Lochyer Brennan.

A try each to both teams had Ivanhoe leading 8-6 at halftime. More tit-for-tat tries in the second half had the Roosters still ahead 20-18 with only minutes left.

A late penalty saw Noah Forbutt, who already had two tries and three goals to his name, enjoy success with a fourth shot to draw scores level 20-20 and send the game into extra time.

Ivanhoe’s big game experience won through in the end, with a try bringing a 24-20 result and keeping the Roosters alive.

Ivanhoe move through to the Preliminary final, while Barellan are eliminated but can rejoice in  an impressive season - making the finals after a last-place finish in 2023.

Proten Cup semis. Photos: Andrew McLean Photography
Proten Cup semis. Photos: Andrew McLean Photography

In the Major Semi-final, Narrandera continued their long unbeaten streak but didn’t have it all their own way with Rankins Springs impressing on their home turf early.

A try to prop Jason Cronin had the Dragons in front early before Kyle Prior hit back for Narrandera.

A Damian Walker penalty goal on halftime had the Dragons in front at the break 8-4.

A couple of tries to Lizard Caleb Atkinson and one to Dragon Jesse James had the Lizards up in the second half, 16-12, and a weight of possession and a hefty penalty count wore down the Dragons until Kyle Prior got his second to wrap the game up 22-12.

Narrandera qualify for their third straight Grand Final, while Rankins Springs will play Ivanhoe to decide the other 2024 finalist.

Scores: Women - Minor Semi-final: Narrandera 18 (Zoey Ingram 2, Juhleeya Bright, Mackenzie Mohr tries; Kiara Crowe 1 goal) def Rankins Springs 14 (Tash Tuckett, Maddi Ramponi, Georgia West tries; Tash Tuckett 1 goal)

Major Semi-final: Ivanhoe 14 (Nancy Tale, Shailyn Williams, Tangata Toru tries; Shailyn Williams 1 goal) def Barellan 12 (Amie Fazekas, Tommi Booth tries; Monique Higgins 2 goals)

Men - Minor Semi-final: Ivanhoe 24 (Ethan Harris 2, Lochyer Brennan, Jermaine Dixon, Phillip Hunter tries; Tarelle Jones 2 goals) def Barellan 20 (Noah Forbutt 2, Tom Bartter tries; Noah Forbutt 4 goals)

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New South Wales Rugby League respects and honours the Traditional Custodians of the land and pay our respects to their Elders past, present and future. We acknowledge the stories, traditions and living cultures of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples on the lands we meet, gather and play on.

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